chapter  3
13 Pages

Splintered encounters: the critical reception to William Forsythe in the United States, 1979–1989: Mark Franko


Prior to the formation of Ballett Frankfurt in 1984, Forsythe’s choreography was performed in the United States by the Stuttgart Ballet, the Netherlands Ballet, the Joffrey Ballet, the Paris Opera Ballet, the Lyon Opera Ballet, the New York City Ballet, and the San Francisco Ballet. Ballett Frankfurt had its U.S. debut in 1987 at Purchase, NY, and its New York City debut in 1988 at the City Center. Finally, Ballett Frankfurt toured nationally in 1989, after which it did not return to the United States of America for ten years.1 The journalistic critical response in New York during this decade was, with a few exceptions, hostile, and the hiatus in US appearances until 1999 may have been dictated in part by this response. Anna Kisselgoff, chief dance critic of The New York Times, was practically Forsythe’s sole supporter. Despite occasional misgivings, Kisselgoff recognized the importance and originality of Forsythe’s work in a way that no critic writing in America until Roslyn Sulcas was willing, or able, to do.2